Posted by: Anastacio Martinez | December 5, 2011

10 Powerful Lessons I’ve Learned While Learning The English Language

Photo: Books of different languages.

Today, I’m going to share with you in a nutshell my top 10 lessons I’ve learned from learning the English language. These lessons are from the school of hard knots or in the other words, the school of life. Languages are one of the things I love ♥. It’s been almost three years since the moment I started to get seriously about learning this new language. This happened during my stay in LA for two years.

Here are the top 10

1. Submerge. I you really want to learn something new you have to dive in into the most adequate environment in order to succeed at what you are trying to achieve. Let me give you an example!!! For my entire life I lived in the beautiful and enchanted island of Puerto Rico; where the spoken language is Spanish. In August 2008 I moved to Los Angeles, CA and I started to work in a financial office as an agent. Every person on the office spoke English with the exception of one Argentinian guy who most of the time wasn’t there. I was one in one hundred people who didn’t speak Spanish. I’ve no other choice than speak English.

2. Be Results Oriented. Your mind it’s going to play a big role in everything you are trying to accomplish in life. You must train it to think in the results you want. Mine was to “fluently speak the English language”. Most of the time I was thinking of the day I would be speaking and having great conversations with people. Another result I added into this equation was that I was going to be inserting a new tool in the bag of skills I had. This mindset helped me be in a constant frequency of satisfaction. You must be clear about the ending result!!!

3. Ask, Ask, Ask. I once read in a book that the meaning of the “Ask” acronym was “Always Seeking Knowledge”. It goes perfectly suitable with this topic. I was never tired of asking. A very important point to make here is that there isn’t a stupid or dumb question. If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know the answer. If so, you Ask!!! I remember bombarding the executive assistance with 10 to 15 questions every day. You must be thinking “WOW”. Taso those are lots of questions my friend. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. At the end she got interested in learning Spanish and it was a win-win situation for both. The main message is to Ask!

4. Be a SPONGE. You heard me right amigo… Like the one you use to clean the dishes. You must develop the absorbing characteristic of the sponge. This is the catalyst to expedite the learning curve in anything you are trying to master. Be curious and be a learning machine. Perhaps Jeffrey Gitomer said it best, “Always Maintain Your Antenas UP”. This is one of the traits of high achievers!!!

5. Dare To Make Mistakes. You must accept the fact that if you are going to learn something new or something you’ve never tried before that you are going to make mistakes along the road. Don’t let the mistakes to disempower or discourage you from pursuing you goal. If you make a mistake, you pause, evaluate, correct, learn and keep moving forward. One of the most embarrassing mistakes I made was during a cold call. The guy asked me; “so, who are the type of people that are going to be in your corporate overview? I replied saying, “We’re going to have loan officers, real estate agents, doctors and liars.”  The guy replied, “ah, ok.” I gave him the office address, date and time of the overview. Seconds later I heard two guys from the office behind me laughing :-). There were almost crying!!! I ask them, what’s so funny? They told me, you said liars instead of lawyers. Taso, you meant lawyers, right? I said; yeap and I started to laugh too :-). One of them told me, don’t worry it’s almost the same. This tip is very clear!!! Dare to make mistakes and don’t forget to have fun. #memoryofalifetime

6. Be Open to Receive Feedback. This tip is one of the most helpful in your development of achieving greatness and reaching your maximum potential. This is how you are going to get better and get to the next level. Feedback tells you what you are doing right and not so right. When someone corrects you, it means that he/she cares about you. It’s not easy to swallow constructive (-) feedback. If you don’t get feedback, ask for it.  Remember, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Ken Blanchard Author of The One Minute Manager

7. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone. Don’t settle. If you don’t feel the fear you are probably playing safe. You are in zone of comfort and that’s not good for grow. I will show you two example of how I stepped out. Here they are: Example #1: I started to watch movies in Spanish. Then, I switched to movies in English with subtitles in Spanish. Then, I switched to movies in English with subtitles in English. Now I watch movies in English with no subtitles. The same with my books. Now, I read them all in English. Example #2: I remember a day going with a business partner from the same office I used to work with, to do a presentation in an unemployment center. This is an American guy born and raised in the state of St. Louis. You know what he did to me? He threw me a curve ball seconds before doing the presentation and told the manager of the center that his friend, me, was going to do the presentation. You know how I felt right? My blood pressure started to increased and my hands started to sweat.  I felt nervous and anxious. At that time I decided and I chose to step out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t scare of public speaking. I was scare about my ENGLISH!!! Today I give thanks to my friend who pushed me to conquer my goal. It boils down to one word: STRETCH!!!

8. Be Patience/Flexible. Rome wasn’t built in a few months or a few years. It took time to build that great city. Same as your goals!!! I started to speak the language approximately after 8 months. At the beginning I was forcing myself too much and I wasn’t being flexible or patient to learn and process the information. My recommendation is to take the time to digest and chew on it and forget about the time issue. As long as you are progressing, you are heading in the right direction.

9. Practice. This is a key factor and a major part of the puzzle of success. Everyday I was practicing!!! I was taking action. This is how we go from bad, to good, to great and to finally arrive at excellence. Put the time and effort. There is a great saying that says, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Keep it in mind!! To give you an example, I practiced the pronunciation of the word “thought” for about a month before I mastered it.

10. Get Ready to Get Bullied. People are going to laugh, make fun of you and call your name. There are people in life that don’t want you to succeed. Two of the main reasons I got bullied was due to my accent and my mispronunciation of the words. The way I handled the first one was by having in mind that I spoke two languages; and the way I battled the second one was by having by my side the quote, “I have nothing but contempt for anyone who can spell a word only one way” by Thomas Jefferson.

Here is a great advise from Mr. Jim Rohn,

“It will be useful in the 21st century to learn more than one language.”

Like this? Be sure to post on Facebook, tweet this to your bird’s followers and link this to your professional network in Linkedin. They will appreciate you :-).

If you like this post, you’ll love:

Thanks for stopping by!!!

You are a Champion :-).

Connect with me on:

PS: I want to thanks Sannya Fang, Elan Michael, RJ Knoll, Joe Sweeney and Lydiana Garcia for caring enough to help me learn the English’s language. You guys are AMAZING!!!

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Responses

  1. Well done mi amigo!! I especially love #5 Dare To Make Mistakes. I think fear of making mistakes is what holds a lot of people (myself included at times) from diving in and speaking a language we are still learning.

    I am 30 years old and still learning English but I’ve never let that hold me back from speaking. Thank you for inspiring me to have the same courage with other languages!

    You are a CHAMPION!

    • Thanks for dropping by your thoughts & ideas. I’m glad you liked #5, it’s one of my favorites.

      I think that at the end what’s really, really important is how much weight you put in the goal you are trying to achieve. That mindset will get you through the tough times. It hapenned with me!!! Thinking most of the time about the benefit of speaking an extra language.

      Joe, make up your mind to keep learning Spanish. You’ve the hard work attitude, discipline & passion to make it happen.

      Tu eres un Campeon :-).

      Saludos,

      Taso

  2. Taso, I love this article! I share with you the interest in new languages, too. My first language is Spanish, then English… I took Italian and French at High School. Later, at college, I took again: French. It’s my goal to speak and write fluently French!!! Well, enough about me. I wanted to share with you this new TED Talk about it and I’m spooked that you wrote about it almost simultaneously!!! Causality!!!?

    Luis von Ahn is the inventor of CAPTCHA, and now of Duolingo.com. This website is a new method on learning a foreign language (and it’s FREE). Please spread the word and be part of this creative project. I know I will! I also know I will speak and write French (fluently). =)

  3. I’m glad you liked :-). Didn’t know you have a common interest!!! Now I can practice the little French I know with you. Hehe…

    Well, about the TED talk, I’ve to say that “Great Minds Think Alike”. We are all vibrating at different frequencies & those who match ours, are going to meet up at some point along the road.

    Thanks for sharing your passion for learning & for languages. I’m definetely going to share the link so people could benefit from it.

    In the meantime keep practicing your French while I keep mastering my English!!!

    You are a Champion :-).

    Best,

    Taso


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